Delta 767 Lands on taxiway in Atlanta

Posted on 20. Oct, 2009 by in Airline Safety, Blog, Featured

Delta’s Flight #60 from Rio was cleared to land on runway 27R at approximately 06:00 this morning.  The 767 inadvertently landed on a parallel taxiway.  I flew into and out of Atlanta the last couple of weeks, as my last post mentions.  This was so close to a potential disaster, it is just pure luck it wasn’t.

The runway where the jet was supposed to land, and the small taxiway next to it

The runway where the jet was supposed to land, and the small taxiway next to it

The FAA’s Kathleen Bergen tells WSB’s Bob Coxe: “Pilots are trained to land on the runway,” Bergen says.  “Taxiway landing is not appropriate, so we will be investigating it very thoroughly in determining why that happened.” 

Here is why it could have been tragic.  Runway 27R is the central runway to ATL’s 5 parallel runways with 3 parallel taxiways.  Two north, M and L and one south N; these taxiways are normally stacked with aircraft waiting to cross the numerous runways.  I sat for quite a few minutes on all three taxiways last week.  What a conflagration this could have been. 

The crew of Flight 60 had just flown a 10-hour, “all nighter” from Rio.  They had an onboard medical emergency.  I suspect that is why they were assigned the inboard runway, which is normally the takeoff runway.  There is a lot of distraction with a medical emergency. 

Fatigue shows when the normal routine gets disrupted.  I’ll say it again; fatigue shows when the normal routine gets disrupted.  This could very easily have been the worst disaster in aviation history.  All night, 10-hour flight–do you think fatigue played a part?

No Responses to “Delta 767 Lands on taxiway in Atlanta”

  1. Ron Amundson 21 October 2009 at 09:37 #

    I remember chatting with a grey beard some 25+ years ago. The guy had 20,000+ hours, and he was telling me his landing on a taxiway…

    As a newbie pilot, I was thinking how on earth could an airline captain, much more so, an old grey beard do such a thing.

    His answer, fatigue+an abnormal situation, and it doesn’t matter how much experience one has… this is when things can and do go wrong.

  2. Chip 21 October 2009 at 10:51 #

    Absolutely. The most incidious part is many times you as the pilot do not realize you are fatigued. It is therefore up to the regulations to try and insure crews are not. I equate “productivity” with fatigue. To me it is a one for one correlation.

  3. Rick 22 October 2009 at 16:50 #

    At 6am the approach lights would have been unmistakeable. Something really crazy must have been going on.

  4. Rick 23 October 2009 at 08:53 #

    Two things in common, apparently, with all of these incidents over the past 6 months….including the MSP overfly by NWA…..fatigue, and NIGHT FLYING. No getting around that second point…IMHO.

Leave a Reply